Now, it may be because I haven’t played Sentinels of the Multiverse (I have friends who swear by it and even cosplay about it) but I have not yet played a board game that captured the feel of a comic book/ super hero for me. Oh, I’ve had lots of fun with them but they haven’t made me feel like I was living a super hero story.
Mind you, that’s because a key element of the genre for me is the soap opera, something that Stan Lee made a major part of comic books. (Seriously, the definition of Spider-Man is him worrying about the bills and Aunt May’s fiftieth operation while wrestling Doctor Octopus) The fights are all very well but they are only one layer of the chocolate cake.
Which is why my best super hero experiences in gaming have consistently been through role playing games. In particular (and appropriately, given that Stan Lee has put me on this train of thought), the old Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game. Good old FASERIP.
At the time, FASERIP seemed almost too simple to be a real RPG to us, seeing as how it really boiled down to one chart. Now, I have a much greater understanding of how that simplicity makes the system great. By not having to focus on rule mastery, we were able to focus more on story telling. Of course, we had to supply our own soap operas but we’d all read Chris Claremont’s X-Men so we were able to do that.
My old Marvel GM has recommended Masks to me for a super hero game that really explores story telling. I’ll have to look into that.
Let’s face it. Super Heroes are, at the end of day, about specific characters and their stories. And role playing games are great at that.